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Most people are afraid to ride their horses bareback much less with just a halter. A sure fire way to test just how good your partner is listening to you may be to ride without the bit in their mouth.
Of course there is a right way and a wrong way to go about this but you just might be surprised at how responsive your mount is to you.
Inspired by Stacy Westfall, the gal who can ride her horse with nothing on the horse, I was encouraged to test the water, or I should say my horse.
We have been a team for about 4 years and I think we have a pretty good repour going. For instance, I found out that he responds to praise better than harshness. In scary situations he is encouraged when I talk softly to him, saying things like, “you can do this, it will be okay.” Of course there are times he will test me and when I raise my voice he immediately responds to me.
I decided that I would test him and see if he really was obeying me or the bit. It is of course very important to do this work in an enclosed area. A riding arena is ideal but a round pen or a ring would suffice. I started out riding him bareback with his bridle on. At first he was a little confused feeling my butt on him. He didn’t seem to know what to make of this.
We started out at a walk, circling the arena a few times. We then tried a trot or in our case, his gait. After a few times in the arena over a period of weeks, I decided to remove the bridle and work with only his halter and the reins attached to the side buckles. Again he was a little hesitant but just in a curious way.
We started out at a walk, when I felt he was comfortable with that I tried some basic moves like backing up and figure eights. It went better than I expected so I thought I would try some of the things we had been working on like side passing. He did very well. I was encouraged.